Sunday, December 7, 2008

Where Is Jeff Dancing in Iowa?

Anamosa resident Jeff Hoskinson logged 9,850 miles and collected 300 dancing clips while visiting each of Iowa's 99 counties from February to November of this year. He did the same thing in 2007, and here is that video. Between 2007 and 2008, he drove somewhere between 15,000 and 18,000 miles. Here is a video from a WHO-TV newcast of March 3, 2008, explaining why Jeff took on such an adventure.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Turf Club

In case you missed it, an artificial playing surface has been installed at Dodger Stadium. Here's what it looks like from the air, thanks to this photo by the Messenger's Dana Recker that was taken from the plane of Dean Getting.

This is part of a nearly $1.9 million fundraising effort to update the facility, which basically hasn't been touched since it was built in 1939-40. You can click here to read Eric Pratt's story about the renovation project. And there is a spirited discussion going on about the field at the end of this link.

Pratt also wrote a piece in favor of a proposed aquatic center. This excerpt:

"I owe Fort Dodge. I've lived here for the better part of 20 years. I went to school here. I work here. I met my wife here. My son was born here.

"As I get older, my sense of civic responsibility grows. I don't feel like it's up to me, as a voter, to pick and choose projects based on my own personal interests. Instead, I try to make decisions that will help strengthen our collective future."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Anybody Taking Photos This Weekend?

Unfortunately, your loyal webmaster is stuck in California and won't be able to attend the festivities this weekend because of a conflict with something called work. None too happy about this. ...

We're hoping that somebody will be taking photos and after the carnage clears, will send us shots to display on the site. There are no plans to take down the site. We will continue to update it as time allows and post items of interest involving classmates and developments in Fort Dodge.

In the meantime, have a great, great time and enjoy a cold one on me!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Highway 30 Flooding Near Boone

This is Highway 30 looking east toward Boone and over the Des Moines River Valley on Wednesday, June 11. Many of you are probably familiar with this road, as it leads toward Ames. Normally you can't even see the river until you cross the bridge.
And this is the view from the other side, looking west toward Ogden. You'll notice old Highway 30 in the upper right-hand corner of the image. As of Thursday, the old highway was still open. It's about 2.5 miles across this valley and it looks like the river is now about a mile wide.
Bruce Stottrup, who sent us these images, also got a ground-level view of the river looking east. Flooding is much, much worse in other parts of the state, with rivers rising to unprecedented levels.

Update: The image below was taken Wednesday, June 18. looking east against toward Ames. Still plenty of standing water.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Brushy Creek

Brushy Creek was long in the planning stages and fraught with delays, but 15 years after the Class of 1978 graduated, the project was completed. Today a 6,000-acre state park — one of Iowa's largest — and a 690-acre man-made lake offer a variety of recreational activities.
Brushy Creek is located 15 miles southeast of Fort Dodge. Runoff from the spillway trickles into the Des Moines River several miles downstream.There are 53 miles of hiking and horse trails. The beautiful trail pictured here leads to an area below the spillway.
View of the spillway from the bottom of the hiking trail.
There are several boat ramps. This one has steps leading to an elevated area where anglers park vehicles and trailers after launching their vessels.
A view of one of the launching docks. Activities other than boating and fishing include picnicking — with areas and shelters for large gatherings — an equestrian camp ground, swimming, hunting and a shooting range.
Two anglers work the shoreline in late May. There is a 15-inch length minimum for bass and a 40-inch minimum for musky.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Back to School

From Senior High on down, a look at what your former schools looks like today, with links where available. Unfortunately, some of the buildings are gone, leaving only a vacant lot. In the case of Pleasant Valley, a church occupies the property.

We begin with a look at Senior High, built in 1958 and still going strong:North Junior High, now Phillips Middle School. It was built in 1922 and was originally the high school:
South Junior High, now Fair Oaks Middle School. The building was constructed in 1931:Arey Elementary. It's now home of the Community School District offices:Badger. What's left is mostly a vacant lot that has become a city park. Some homes are built on fringe of the property:Butler. Actually, this is the new Butler, built on the same location. This sparkling building opened in 2002:
Cooper. Built in 1956, with additions in 1958, 1961 and 1966. One of the newer buildings in the district: Duncombe. Built in 1912, it's the oldest building in the district. An addition was added in 1950. The Senior High used to play its football games on the east field:Feelhaver. This was newest building in the district until Butler opened. Feelhaver opened in 1967:Highland Park. The building remains, but it's no longer a school. Not sure what it is being used for. Anybody know?
Hillcrest. It was built in 1956 with additions in 1961, 1966 and 1971:
Hawley. It's gone. Now it's a city park with a basketball court:
Otho. The school is closed and we're not sure what the building is being used for. Maybe somebody can let us know:Pleasant Valley. As stated, a church now occupies the property:Riverside. It was built in 1957.
St. Edmond. Fort Dodge's Catholic high school has added several buildings in the past few years and a snazzy sign out front:
St. Paul Lutheran. The old church, dedicated in 1886, was destroyed in 1999 in a fire started by an arsonist, but a new place of worship opened in 2003. The school building was dedicated in 1951, enlarged in 1959 and remodeled and dedicated in 1999.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Parkersburg Tornado

Your humble blogmaster was in Fort Dodge on May 25 when word came that Parkersburg, 80 miles to the east, was hit by a tornado. Hearing the news brought back memories of the tornado that struck Fort Dodge in 1977, our junior year.

But the twister that hit Parkersburg and continued on to New Hartford and Dunkerton was unlike any other. This was a monster storm, rated an F5 — the largest on the Fujita Scale — by the National Weather Service. The twister at times was more than a mile wide and packed winds of 205 miles per hour. It stayed on the ground for 43 miles. Sadly, seven people lost their lives in what was the second-deadliest tornado in Iowa history.

The devastation was unlike anything I've witnessed. Half of Parkersburg (population 2,000) was gone. This little jewel of a city on the Iowa prairie looked like a war zone. Words and pictures don't begin to capture the destruction.

There are so many stories to tell, but the spirit of Iowans in times like this remains unmatched. Every town seemingly had sent help — from rescue and clean-up crews to fire personal. There was Cedar Falls and Charles City (site of Iowa's deadliest tornado in 1968). There was Waverly and Williamsburg. And yes, there was Fort Dodge.

If you're interested in helping in some way, click on this link maintained by radio station KLMJ/KQCR in Hampton. The station's general manager happens to be former Fort Dodger Craig Donnelly and the station has been doing a terrific job updating the recovery efforts in Parkersburg.

The Class of 1978 in 1998

Check it out! Cool video of the 20-year reunion posted over at the Reunion Message Board.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spring Has Finally Arrived

Bruce Stottrup, the unofficial staff photographer for the Class of 1978, sent along two shots taken last weekend.

He writes: "The sounds of lawn mowers could be heard throughout Fort Dodge. ... A dove has set up house on the front of our garage. If you look closely you can see there are two doves in the picture [click the photo for an enlarged view]. The dove actually sitting on the nest has its tail to right of the dove in the picture. ... Farmers are starting to get in the fields."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Buddy Holly and the Laramar

The Laramar Ballroom at 710 First Avenue North has a rich history. Check out this poster — believed to be a reproduction — promoting Buddy Holly's appearance at the Laramar on Jan. 30, 1959, only three days before his death in the crash of a Beechcraft Bonanza near Clear Lake.

Also on the fatal flight with Holly were J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson (of "Chantilly Lace" fame), Ritchie Valens and the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson.

The book, "The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens — and the Fatal Air Crash That Took Their Lives" details the musicians' appearance at the Laramar before 1,000. Here is part of the entry:

"Fort Dodge (pop. 28,000) had come under the intense scrutiny of health officials after a mysterious virus spread rapidly through the city in November. As many as two thousand Fort Dodge residents had been stricken with the virus, which caused nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A team of federal health officials descended on the city in January in an all-out effort to determine the source of the virus.

"When it was discovered that the pet dog in many families was stricken with similar symptoms, the Iowa state veterinarian was dispatched to the city to take case histories of the sick dogs.

"The Winter Dance Party bus with its balky heater slipped through the winter darkness in temperatures in the low teens and with two inches of freshly fallen snow on the ground, en route to a concert in a city full of sick people and dogs.

"The bus was late arriving in Fort Dodge. 'We were worried,' says Dick Derrig, an assistant manager at the Laramar Ballroom.

"Bob Geer, fifteen-year-old son of Laramar owner Larry Geer, remembers the group's arrival. 'They had a bus that smelled bad. I'm sure it was no fun traveling on.' "

Here is a link to photos of Holly's appearance in Fort Dodge.

The Change of Seasons at Brushy

Two weeks ago Bruce Stottrup traveled to Brushy Creek to give us a look at winter's last grip. He returned this past weekend along with his dog, Sophia, and as you can see, spring is starting to take hold.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fort Dodge in Postcards

Not sure of the year, but check out the trolley tracks running down Central Avenue. This is looking west. Our best guess is the early 1900s.
This is Central Avenue looking east. Again, early 1900s. These postcards, along with many others, are available on eBay. We thank Bruce Stottrup for finding this resource.
Here is a bustling Central Avenue at night in 1923. You can click any of these images for an enlarged view.
This is a 1909 postcard of the C.G.W. RY. Viaduct running across the Des Moines River valley.
The Wahkonsa Hotel in the 1920s.
The Des Moines River, south of the viaduct, in 1907.
The Wagon Bridge, which has has since been torn down. No date given, but our guess is the 1920s.
This is the Y.M.C.A. from a card postmarked in 1923. This would appear to be the old library building on First Avenue North.
An aerial view of the city. This is dated somewhere between 1930 and 1950.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

From Winter to Spring at Brushy Creek

The calendar says spring, but winter still has a grip on Northwest Iowa. Bruce Stottrup sent us these photos taken on Sunday, April 6, at Brushy Creek Recreation Area southeast of Fort Dodge.

As you can see, the ice is off the lake and birds are plentiful, but the spring foliage has yet to return. That should change in the next couple of weeks.